Sunday, January 27, 2019

M3E: Now it can be told...


On today’s blog offering, a discussion of crews that excite me in M3E (and why it took so bloody long for me to post about them). But first, some…

Mini-Musings


-Going to Adepticon? Malifaux Musings is too! I have no illusions about being competitive in…anything, so if you want to hit me or Phiasco up for a game in person outside the tournaments, we would be delighted to oblige. We’ve got Malifaux crews. We’ve got The Other Side companies. So, come throw down with us!


-In Through the Breach news, our Roll20 character sheet (pictured above) is in beta testing! We don’t have it uploaded into Roll20’s system yet, so you have to install it through the custom script. The good news is, we want playtesters to try it out, and we’re happy to provide the code to you if you let us know you’re interested (and pinky swear to give us feedback.)

- Also, we’ve started recording an actual play podcast! I mentioned previously that I was running my crew through a Malifaux adaptation of Wizards of the Coast’s module Dragon Heist, and last month I started recording them. Learning how to edit has been a process, and we want to get lots of them banked up before we start releasing to the public, but I’m excited for this new way of generating content for Malifaux Musings.

***


            A couple of weeks ago, the NDA was lifted from M3E content, and an open beta began on Wyrd’s website. A rush of content has begun as the previously dormant podcasts and youtube channels have found new life (and you should go listen to all of them, including Flippin’ Wyrds, Max Value, Schemes and Stones, etc.). When this era started, I felt a call to start writing about the new edition as well. Malifaux Musings had lain fallow for almost a month at that point, as my readership numbers had let me know loud and clear that very few people seem interested in Through the Breach or The Other Side content, or at least nowhere near as many as would follow Malifaux news. This wasn’t a huge surprise, but it was hard to get motivated to crank out a batrep to essentially broadcast it to no one. But now that should be changing. M3E was out there, and we could start breaking down new masters, new schemes, and new rulesets to try and inject life back into my favorite game.

            And for some reason, I just didn’t feel like writing.

            It’s not like I had no ideas. Discussing how the new masters play on the tabletop. Looking for the best way to tackle the new strategies. Hell, just a celebratory “M3E is here! Let’s all start dancing in the streets” post would have been appropriate, but for whatever reason I just couldn’t find the spark to sit down and write it. Maybe part of this stemmed from the fact that M3E wasn’t new to me. I was drafted into the alpha effort, which was where most of my contributions during playtesting went on. I stuck with reading the updates and occasionally getting a game in during later phases, but the playtest group I tried to assemble never really got off the ground, due in large part to the fact that we all live hours away from each other and have to play on Vassal, which takes roughly 1.5x as long as a real game. Plus, it’s a pain printing out the stat cards every week for a crew, etc etc there are a number of reasons. SO, long story short, I stayed in the beta and kept reading the changes, but my interest waned over time. M3E coming out is therefore less a matter of “Oooo look at all the new shinies” and more “huh, well, at least it’ll be new people playing it” for me.

            Then there were some changes at the end of the beta that really blew the wind out of my sails. The NDA is lifted so I could technically go into details, but I’m gonna chose not to, as it would just come off as griping. And then, of course, Mason left Wyrd, which frankly sucks. I was lucky enough to meet him at Gencon a couple of years ago and hang out. I’ve enjoyed collaborating with him during the Through the Breach playtesting group, and he’ll always have my respect for the excellent job he did heading up the rewrite of the RPG’s rules to fix some of the (very) bumpy parts of TTB1e. I’m sure Wyrd’s remaining design staff are excellent and the properties are in good hands, but I have a hard time believing that they’re not worse off for his departure.

            And weirdly, the game I didn’t think I would be that interested in (The Other Side) has actually grabbed a lot of my attention and gaming time recently. One undeniable fact about Malifaux is that, at the end of a game, I’m tired. It takes a lot of mental energy to keep all the possible combinations and moves in mind as the game goes on, and things can swing on one activation. My King’s Empire doesn’t feel that way. Maybe that’s because most of the models I have are some variation of “move into position and shoot the other guys” for their activation. But, somehow, the increased model count and the more abstract nature of the rules (the only elevations are “low” or “high” terrain, for one example) have resulted in a game that is smoother and easier to play. *shrug* Maybe that’s not true for the other Allegiances (I certainly know that Phiasco’s Abyssinia seems to have more things to keep track of than mine) and maybe it’ll change as I expand the models available from the Allegiance, but for now I’m enjoying the game quite a bit, which makes changing gears back to Malifaux even more complicated. Also, the games I’ve played so far have left me with the impression that it’s hard to get completely wiped out in a game of TOS, as the reinforce rules make keeping a fireteam knocked off the board pretty difficult. After almost an edition’s worth of playing the glass-cannon Neverborn, it’s nice not being afraid that one miss-step would end with half my crew getting knocked off the board.

So, yeah, that’s why I haven’t come blazing out of the gate with M3E content. Let me be clear: M3E is a good game that answers a lot of the problems that had accrued in Malifaux  2nd edition. I’m going to play it. Malifaux Musings will keep writing about it. But I’m gonna keep talking about the RPG and TOS as well. This is a continuation of what the blog has always been about, a celebration of all the parts of the Malifaux (and by extension Wyrd) world that I love. I hope readers will stick along with me.

***


So who/what do I like about M3E? Well, most of the testing I did focused on the Ten Thunders and Guild, so that’s what I’ll be most familiar with initially. Long-term readers will know I was leaning heavily towards Ten Thunders going into the edition, and that hasn’t changed. I really like the card manipulation that Lynch’s crew uses. Stack the Deck looks like it would mostly be useful as a card manipulation/cycling tactic, but it goes deeper than that. Get tired of failing simple duels to activate your free actions? Put the card you need on top of the deck and the problem is solved without having to reduce your handsize by cheating. Know you’re going to be doing a double walk or a walk-interact (IE you won’t need to perform a duel during your activation)? Hide a high card on there and know you’ll be in good shape for defense duels. There’s a lot of there there, if you take my meaning. The summoning is nice, but I didn’t get as much mileage out of it in my games as I had hoped (disclosure, I played Lynch in the alpha and early beta, so it could have changed.) One of his abilities also used to be called “Blackjack and Hookers.” I’m sad that is no longer the case.

McCabe is interesting. I like that the crew is more built around swapping the upgrades than previous versions. I’m hoping the Ruffians prove to be quality enough to be used in most games, as I like the models (and the bald guy with the chains is one of the few Malifaux people I can cosplay, these days.) Plus I kind of fell in love with McCabe at the end of M2E, so I’m definitely feeling the Wastrels going forward. For those worried about his Nightmare Edition boxed set no longer being viable (since he can’t hire mounted guards anymore, after his termination by the Guild), rest assured that you only have to be patient. This will be resolved shortly. Misaki is a lot more interesting and involved than previous versions, as you have the tension of being penalized for the longer you let her sit buried versus the advantage of not having your master in a predictable place. I’m not sure I “like” it as a crew I would want to play all the time, but it’s certainly more unique and tactical. I’ll go into more of a discussion of the Qi and Gong crew in the future, but the games I played with them I enjoyed. Their success or failure doesn’t wrap around their master, as their damage dealers and scheme runners are in the greater crew, but they can tie you up into some serious knots with all of the conditions they can stick you with. They leave the opponent in a position where they have to make hard choices which you can exploit. I worry about how that will work competitively, as one of my hard rules is “don’t rely on your opponent making choices, as they will always choose the one that is worst for you”, but I’m intrigued. If nothing else, their addition ensures the Ten Thunders’ have the most hookers per capita of any faction in Malifaux, which is amusing. 

Oh yeah, and the Shadow Emissary can crush some serious face, which I like for reasons entirely unrelated to being in love with the paint job I did on mine.


For the Guild, the new guys from the Frontier have definitely drawn my attention. They’re likely to be the subject of another blog post, but I’ve always been drawn to crews that can define the terrain of the battlefield, and these guys do a lot of that while also being ranged combat oriented. There’s a reason M2E McTavish was so popular in Lillith crews, after all. They expand the deployment zone, which seems broken as hell the first time you see it. That actually happens a lot in M3E, and The Flippin’ Wyrds pointed out that this is a feature, not a bug. When you get the models on the table you’ll realize most of it isn’t as bad as you think. I’m still a little worried about the combination of melee masters with it, though. Is Lady Justice being that close to the opponent on Turn 1 worth 16 points? I’m not sure, but I’ll keep testing it until I know for sure. Austringers that die release Malifaux Raptors, which is cool and reminds me of Roland’s coming of age in The Dark Tower, which is what drew me to Malifaux in the first place. Plus, Cornellius has a trigger where a sandworm pops out of the ground and attacks an enemy model. I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty positive Malifaux didn’t have sandworms prior to the Penny Dreadful one-shot I wrote for Wyrd Chronicles, so I’ve pretty much gotta play Basse. 

Somehow playing KE in The Other Side (and all of the Guild lore from the setting) has me wanting to play Dashel. I’ve never really played a summoner before, which is kind of mind boggling when I think how long I’ve been playing Malifaux, so I’ll have to give them a go at some point. I stocked up on the Lucius box set and some other things that go with Dash during the Easter sale. If nothing else, the Captain deserves some respect for going from a nobody in Malifaux to a master in his own right over the course of two editions. I guess it’s good to have the secretary-general on your side. The Ortegas feel like the Ortegas, so they’ll always be there as an “I don’t want to think anymore, I just want to shoot shit” crew. I do like that Francisco won’t be the Guild’s version of Wolverine anymore (IE: somehow he’s a guest star in every single crew, much like Logan was somehow an X-Man, Avenger, had two of his own comic book, and was guest starring in half of the other series). The out of keyword tax wouldn’t have been enough to get that done with M2E Franc, so they scaled him back a little to get the job done. Also Santiago isn’t hot garbage anymore, so putting him (or his sister Santana) on the board won’t be as embarrassing.

So yeah, like I said. I don’t hate M3E (despite how the first part sounded.) I quite like it. The rubber-band dynamic of the scoring is interesting, and I want to see how it plays out in tournaments. There are a lot of crews I want to get on the table (even if it’s just virtual.) In the future I’ll likely do individual crew break-downs, unless people have their own stuff they would rather see first. Let me know in the comments if you have a crew you want first, or if there is a different topic you’d like to see covered.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

First King's Empire Acquisitions



I've officially joined the Empire, as of last night. A fellow was looking to off-load his Kickstarter purchase and I happened to notice when he commented about that fact, so after a quick chat on messenger I have some forces heading my way. What it looks like I'll be receiving:

Rulebook- (Important. Knowing how to play the game is useful.)


Allegiance Box- (Also important. Contains Charles Edmonton, 2 Units of Riflemen and one unit of infiltrators. The riflemen seem very shooty, and embody the WWI army visual I wanted these guys for. The infiltrators are interesting. Being able to create hazardous terrain seems useful, but they have to live long enough and kill something to get to glory. They can act as screening units. They can screw with the opponents' tokens. They seem pretty useful. And Edmonton is a sniper who shoots things. Maybe too much of a good thing? IDK, we'll see.)




2x Margaret Belle- (strange, but I'll need a second commander and I can sell the other to defray part of the costs. Belle's crazy fast and very murdery. I wonder if she knows someone from Malifaux named Bette, because she certainly reminds me of her. My time playing 40k taught me how important a counter-punch can be for gunline armies, so I'm kind of leaning her way as far as commanders go. But we'll see. )



1x Samantha Thrace- (Guild envoy. Melee beater. Gives you a tactics token for 3 stones, which are invaluable in this game. Also, see previous comment regarding counter-charge.)



2x Motor Scout- (Whee! Funny guys on bikes! But with machine guns! I was a little dubious at first, but they're dirt cheap, silly fast, and if you gave them Toughness probably more trouble to get rid of than they're worth. When they flip to glory they can summon another one, so I guess it's a good thing I have two, although I'm told they include a cardboard template for things that are summoned in game, which is very considerate and cool of Wyrd. Also, they were a real thing. Totally didn't know that.)


Sharpshooter- (shoots things, but better. And counts as two people when he dies, so that's useful.)


Some extra token sets (how many do you need in most games? Maybe can trade some of them as well...)


The King's Hand- (Big stompy bot. Can't go wrong with that, and if I go to Adepticon I'll need a Titan.)


So, basically a commander level pledge with some motorized scouts tossed in. That's probably a good thing, in terms of learning how to play the game from the ground up. I have some idea of other things that would be good to add on, but we'll get there.

In other news, I've got Chicago on my mind (and I don't mean the band.) In the first week of December, I'm traveling there for work to a conference, and I'm hoping to meet up with the locals for some Wyrd times. Sounds like there will be some The Other Side to be played, or that's the plan anyways. And then, in March, Adepticon is coming. I'm hopeful this will be the first time I'm able to attend. We'll see.

Anyway, Wyrdos, I've put my money where my mouth is. Hopefully I'll have some models to show next time. Speaking of, I'm planning on doing a painted minis roundup of ToS models at some point in the future. I think people liked those. Keep a look out for it.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day, and Why I’ll Be Joining the King’s Empire



            The day I’m writing this marks 100 years to the day when the agreement ending the First World War went into effect. In point of fact, it would be about 15 minutes from when I started writing this when the “Calamity Jane,” an artillery piece from the US armed forces, fired the last shot of the war at 11 AM to commemorate the moment when hostilities ceased. Like a lot of American students, the Great War didn’t take up a ton of my educational time when I was in school. I only really came to appreciate it after I grew up and listened to Dan Carlen’s excellent Blueprint for Armageddon series on WWI. Carlin drives home the point to a level I had never considered that this war is, most likely, the one with the most concentrated human misery, blind heroism, foolish waste, and consequence of any war in human history. The world changed fundamentally as a result of this conflict. At the time, it was called the War to End All Wars, and they were half correct. There have, of course, been other wars since Armistice Day (it is called World War I, after all, which inherently implies there was another one.) But this was the one that showed the world that the Industrial Revolution and advancements in technology had brought home General Sherman’s point that war is hell, and all it’s glories are moonshine.

            And Malifaux’s version of WWI is starting with The Other Side.



            It’s not exactly the same conflict, of course. We’re about five years early, for one things, as Malifaux’s current time line is somewhere around 1907 or 8. Also, there are fish monsters and horrible mutant cults. So, you know, that’s a little bit different. But the King’s Empire is the closest thing to an accurate WWI-era army, and I’m way into it. They resemble the forces of the British Expeditionary Force, but retain some of the early-war impractical uniforms that contributed to the horrible casualty rates early in the fighting.

            I don’t know anything about them in terms of combat efficacy. Maybe they suck. Hopefully not, given that the game just launched, but you can never be sure. In reality, I know very little about TOS. At the time of the Kickstarter I was pretty much broke and not overly interested in an army scale game. The first factor has blessedly changed. The second is still not far from the truth. I like skirmish scale games better, if nothing else for not having to paint so many gorram models. But, I think I’ll be giving this new game a try, likely by ordering one of the starter boxes to let me run demos and see if the locals are interested. But, ultimately, my allegiance is going to be with the King’s Empire. You heard it here first. I cut my teeth in wargaming with the Imperial Guard of Warhammer 40K, and I've liked gunlines ever since. This plus my affinity for the historical context of the army makes the choice pretty academic. I have things to like with all of the others as well, but this is really not much of a choice for me. Rule, Britannia! 

                  As such, while M3E news is slowly trickling out from Waldo, I’ll probably be talking about The Other Side in upcoming blog posts. If nothing else, it helps avoid the headache of avoiding breaking my NDA from the M3E playtest. I would guess that the Black Friday sale will at least allow you to order some of the new models, so it’s likely that the purchases will begin then. Maybe I’ll take a look at the rules for the next few posts, as they’re available for free online, followed by taking a look at the Empire’s forces and how I think they could be useful. So, if you wish to save humanity from tides of fish monsters, horrible magical maniacs, and maintain the peace with Abysinnia, well, keep your dial tuned to Malifaux Musings. Much tea will be consumed, and many rounds will be fired.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Malifaux Musings Halloween Special: Top 6 Horror Themed Penny Dreadful One-Shots




One of my favorite all-time RPG memories is inviting my friends to the house to run I6: Castle Ravenloft, inviting the players to the titular evil lair to face the vampire Strahd as he stalked them through his home. There's something special about running a horror game on Halloween. Everyone is already in the mood for a fright, and as a game master it's our solemn duty to provide them with one. Malifaux gives us a number of options to do just that. So, with that in mind, here are the top 6 Penny Dreadful one-shots to run for a night of spooky fun. 

#6 Til Death Do Us Part



            The Fated are contacted by a woman to investigate a murder. Pretty standard adventure set-up, right? Well, there’s a little twist: the woman wants them to investigate HER murder. Poor Sarah’s woken up as a zombie with no idea how she got that way. Worse (well, ok, maybe not worse), her fiancĂ© is about to get married to somebody else! The Fated have about 30 hours to figure out what happened to her and obtain the information necessary to confront her killer. I love the set-up for this Penny Dreadful. The only thing that knocks it down this particular list is the lack of horror elements past the initial hook. If I was going to run it for a Halloween game, I might have to dress up some of the enemies down the line to include a bit more horror. But still, Til Death Do Us Part is a solid mystery with an excellent hook.

#5 The Ferryman


            Something is stalking the shores of Malifaux’s waterfronts. Mariners and dock workers are going missing, and rumor has it a creature in the river is to blame. When a bounty is offered for bringing the thing in, a cadre of hunters (including the Fated) take to the waters to try and end the nightmare forever. Playing on the horror of an aquatic unknown menace, the adventure is reminiscent of the movie Jaws (right down to a Quint-like character). Not classically horror-filled, with the right application of a John Williams score and appropriate measures to build tension, this adventure is more than capable of keeping the Fated on the edge of their seats. One thing is for sure: if the Fated go after the Ferryman, they’re going to need a bigger boat.

#4 Ghost House


            The classic haunted house story with a Malifaux twist, this story is a fantastic one-off for some spooky horror classics. Every game master at some point or another tries a version of this, and if you’re worth your salt you pick up simple tricks here and there to help things out. The house in question for this story isn’t exactly “The Haunting of Hill House,” however, as it is VERY blatantly haunted and the first thing the Fated will likely see is the phantom owners of the home gliding by. Still, put on some appropriately spooky ambient music. Make some halls longer than they should be. Knock under the table at a tense moment, and you can make for a memorable evening.



#3 Night of the Carver




            I mean, come on. He had to be in here somewhere, right? Malifaux’s Halloween Boogeyman has been a part of the world since nearly the beginning, and there’s a reason the Carver endures in the stories. A killer who manifests on the most haunted night of the year and stalks the city’s citizens (and a city full of people who still go out and celebrate Halloween anyways), the Carver combines the  dark fairytale fear of childhood with the unstoppable killing power of a modern-day slasher like Jason Vorhees. In this particular story, the Fated have to protect a mark that they’re trying to deliver for a bounty after he angers some Neverborn, leading the Malifaux natives to sick the Carver on him. It’s quick, which is ideal for a holiday party atmosphere where it can be tougher to keep the group’s attention. If you’re looking for a game to run on Halloween Night, you can’t find one that fits better than this.

#2 Bad Moon Rising




            Not all Quarantine Zones are created equally, as your Fated will find when they join a pack of Neverborn hunters to try and drive them out of the western QZ named Beggartree. Here, the local Knotwood forests have grown over the walls, congesting the city with gnarly plant growth, tangling roots, and one very, very angry Waldgeist. If they can survive that challenge, they’ll have to deal with infiltration of the hunters by Dopplegangers, try and restore an abandoned Guild relic left on an earlier hunt, and try to disrupt a sinister ritual to awaken one of the Neverborn’s most dangerous enforcers before they can turn him loose on the city. A more combat focused adventure than usual, this locked-in-with-the-monsters adventure has the claustrophobic feeling of movies like Alien. It’s a lot of fun, particularly with pre-generated Fated who you can casually dispatch in a horrific spray of gore.

 #1 Heart of Darkness



            The first time I read through this adventure, I was legitimately creeped out. The story hook is ultimately fairly benign: a new type of gemstone has been found at a mine in the Badlands, and the Fated are sent to investigate who’s been smuggling them out to sell in the city. When they arrive, however, they learn that workers have been going missing, and those who remain are literally jumping at each other’s shadows. When it is ultimately revealed that the camp is being stalked by a Bandersnatch, and the stones from the mine are egg sacks from the very same creatures, the Fated are left to deal with this horror of the Malifaux world. This is easier said than done, however, as by the time they know what is going on, one of the Fated is likely to have a spider-monster of their own hiding in their shadow. Done right, the slow build of paranoia in the camp combined with the bizarre phenomena of the creatures can build an atmosphere like John Carpenter’s The Thing. This adventure is still one of my favorites of all time.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Playing Through the Breach on Roll20

Welcome! We're wrapping up the fourth post this month for Through the Breach, the Malifaux roleplaying game. Previously, I reviewed Above the Law and Northern Sedition, two products that were released (or will be) recently. The third discussed adapting adventure modules from other games for use in TTB. This month, the topic is how to host what I feel is the best online version of TTB you can do.

***

I live a long way from the people with whom I play roleplaying games. This has been the case ever since I started playing Through the Breach. As such, it's been necessary to learn to play the game online, particularly given that my friends and I help with playtesting Through the Breach material. Our first efforts for this used the TTB module from Vassal. This method has some advantages, as it has Malifaux token sets already loaded into the mapping software and creates a subset of card decks for the individual players to use for their Twist decks. There are other parts of the module that don't work as well for what I want, however, so I've since moved on to finding other ways to play the game online. Ultimately, the best tool I've found for this is Roll20.

I know that they're currently on the internet outrage poop list, so maybe it's not cool of me to promote them, but A) I truly believe they've managed to assemble the best combination of complexity, flexibility, and usability of any online tabletop program and B) I don't care about internet outrage. For those who are unfamiliar, Roll20 serves as a virtual tabletop on which your players can conduct their RPG from anywhere with an internet connection. Signing up for an account is free, but there are monthly memberships you can sign up for to enhance your experience and add more tools to the toolbox. I would recommend having a Fatemaster sign up for a subscription and leave the players on free accounts, but I'm not you. If you want to support the company with your money, I support that choice.

My default tabletop for playing Through the Breach at the moment. All of the graphics were uploaded by me.

Not surprisingly, Roll20 is built mostly for dice-based games and mostly-mostly for Dungeons and Dragons. However, their system is set up with decks of cards as well, presumably for games where they're used for initiative or other resources like Deadlands or Savage Worlds. This deck requires a little bit of work to convert the default deck to a Fate Deck (mostly, replacing the graphics of the standard cards with something to show the Malifaux suits and numbers.) You can use the normal playing cards if you want and you're able to do the suit conversion in your head (Rams are Hearts, because everyone loves the Guild. Crows are Spades because Rezzers need shovels. Tomes are Clubs because the Union is like a social club. And Masks are Diamonds because the Neverborn want you to quit stealing their soulstones.) but where's the fun in that? Of course, making all those cards is kinda time-consuming and not a lot of fun. Luckily, your local friendly neighborhood Malifaux bloggist has done all the work for you. Here's a dropbox with all the graphics files. You're very welcome. Now all you have to do is drag and drop them on the appropriate cards. You'll also want to flip the settings on the main deck to look like this:




It's important to uncheck the "Cards in Deck are Infinite" box, because you need to know when the deck runs out, since that's when players draw new cards from their twist decks.

What's that? Twist decks you say? Oh yeah, I guess we should make those too.

This is easily done by creating new decks under the appropriate section of the toolbox, on top of the Gamemaster's toolbox area. You'll have to make a new card and then drag the appropriate card image into the spot, but otherwise it's pretty simple to do. This lets you build all 13 cards for the twist deck. For the twist decks, I usually activate the "Cards in Deck are Infinite" option, with the "Draw through deck, shuffle, repeat" box clicked. This'll save you a bit of work as Fatemaster (players can't reshuffle their own decks, unless there's a setting somewhere I haven't found to allow that.) I like to use my player's character portraits for the image on the back of their deck, but you could literally do anything as long as you don't use the same image as your Fate Deck. Then, you simply have to click "Show" to let the players see them, and they're ready to go.

For twist cards, players can draw them into their hands on their own or you can have the deck deal them out. Theoretically you can click on the fate deck and it'll flip over a card on top whenever you need to flip a card, but that is a little bit hinkey for + and - flips, as it does them one at a time and covers off anything previously flipped. Instead, I generally have everyone hover their mouse pointer over the top of the deck, which will cause an animation of a card to float up. You can then click and drag that card into play on the tabletop. This lets you track all of the cards from the current Challenge flips at once. It's helpful to make the Fate Deck cards and the Twist deck cards different sizes so you can tell them apart. Once the challenge is resolved, you can simply delete the cards to send them into their respective discard piles. Card flips are probably the funkiest part of playing TTB on Roll20, but ultimately it's not a big deal once you get used to it.

There's a caption to help you remember. Also, this is what the cards look like in play. 
There are a number of resources online to help you run your games on Roll20, including their own wiki, so I won't go completely into all the details here. It's kind of useful to learn it organically anyways. But there are a number of useful tools. You can draw maps yourselves or upload graphical files for the maps as well as individual tokens to represent characters, opponents, or furnishings. These can be placed on a map layer that players can see but not manipulate, the objects and tokens layer where things can be clicked on and moved (you have to grant players permissions to move their own tokens, which is tough at the moment for reasons I'll get to later.) Additionally, there is a GM layer where you can place things that you can see but they can't. That's a useful trick to learn to manipulate. The purple glowing fellow in the middle of the map image above is on the GM layer, so I can see him but the players can't. That makes life a little easier and saves having to hunt through tokens to get them into play.

If you like atmosphere, there is a built in jukebox to play music and/or sound effects for the game. There's tables, handouts...basically there's a lot of good stuff in roll20. You can do a deepdive into it or just use it as a shared tabletop on which you can play your games. The level of commitment is up to you. We only just started using battle maps recently, for context, and really just because they were included in the Dragon Heist module I bought. Otherwise we're happy to play in theatre of the mind most of the time, but your group's mileage will vary.

The other big perk to playing on Roll20 is having all of your character sheets together in one place in the game. Or, at least it is for other games. Through the Breach doesn't have a character sheet yet on Roll20. As it stands now, to allow players to move their tokens around on a battle mat you'll have to make them a "character sheet" they can control and assign a token to it, which is silly since the sheet itself will just be blank (or, more likely, it'll default to a D&D sheet.)

But we're working on it.



Doug Broman, a henchman from Des Moines who has html experience, is helping to encode a Through the Breach sheet in Roll20. So far, it looks pretty sharp. We're working out a few hiccups (figuring out how to allow people to add triggers ad hoc has been a bit of a stumbling block) and basically Doug's doing a lot of grunt work to get the coding set up, but I'm super excited for this. He's been a real hero, and if you see him and plan on using this at some point in the future, you should show him a little love yourself. When it's ready, we'll let you know and deploy it to the world at large so anyone who plays Through the Breach on Roll20 can use it.

***

So, that wraps up our October of Through the Breach posts. Or does it? Maybe there's a Halloween surprise in store? Keep an eye on your RSS feeds/twitter/facebook groups.

Later, Wyrdos.